Is there hope on the horizon for tenants in the private-rented sector?

CHAC welcomes the government’s recent proposal to abolish section 21 notices – the procedure that private sector landlords commonly use to recover possession from a tenant, without having to give any reason. The government states that its proposal ‘will bring an end to private landlords uprooting tenants from their homes with as little as eight weeks’ notice after a fixed term contract has come to an end’.

Under the current law unless the tenant can show that the landlord is in breach of a relevant regulation which makes the section 21 notice invalid (eg has failed to provide the tenant with a gas safety certificate, or a ‘How to Rent’ guide or has failed to protect the tenant’s deposit), the court would make a possession order even if the tenant has done nothing wrong.  

CHAC sees many cases where tenants have suddenly received a section 21 notice, all too often after the tenant has asked the landlord to carry out necessary repairs. The law is meant to protect tenants who complain of poor housing conditions from ‘retaliatory (revenge) eviction’, but the current law is inadequate to provide protection in all cases.

If section 21 notices and assured shorthold tenancies are abolished, this will be the biggest change to the private rental sector for many years.

The current government and the Labour Party both have as their stated policy the ending of section 21 notices (and therefore most ‘no fault’ evictions). This is in response to growing recognition that short term tenancies and insecure housing are so damaging and costly for tenants, and cause stress and hardship. Tenants groups have campaigned for years on these issues and it seems that at last the government is taking this on board.

The government intends to consult on the detailed changes needed. The abolition of section 21 notices and assured shorthold tenancies will not solve the housing crisis, but would be an important step. CHAC will take part in the consultation and we will wish to highlight other issues - including the need for more affordable private rented properties and many more new builds, especially social housing new builds and for more homes.